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Bellinger slams Drillers to walk-off win

Dodgers No. 5 prospect heating up after missing season's first month
May 14, 2016

By Cody Bellinger's own modest measure, Saturday would have been a good day for him. And that was before he came through as the Drillers' hero in extra innings.

The Dodgers' fifth-ranked prospect blasted a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning to cap his first three-hit day of the year and give Double-A Tulsa a 6-2 win over Arkansas at ONEOK Field.

"I just consider a successful day barreling up some baseballs and having good ABs," Bellinger said. "I don't want to give away any at-bats, and that's what I try to do. I can have four at-bats and not get any hits, but if I have good at-bats and barrel up a couple of balls, I consider it a good day."

Saturday went from good to great in a hurry. After consecutive strikeouts to open the bottom of the 10th, the Drillers loaded the bases against reliever Danny Reynolds to set the stage for Bellinger's moment.

"It was a long day game, but the pitcher was struggling for the first three batters in front of me,"'s No. 97 overall prospect said. "He threw a couple to the backstop and hit [Jacob] Scavuzzo in front of me. He got down, 2-0, to me, and I just had a great feeling that a fastball was coming. Luckily, I put a good swing on it."

Bellinger clobbered Reynolds' offering and deposited it over the right-center field wall for his first Texas League home run.

"I like being in those situations because all the pressure is on the pitcher," he said. "I just had to be able to put a good swing on it and mainly good things will happen. You'll find a hole or you'll find a gap, and that's just what I was trying to do."

Saturday was the first big day of the season for Bellinger. The 20-year-old first baseman missed almost all of April with a hip injury he suffered at the end of Spring Training. And before the win, he was batting .137/.241/.157 in his first 14 games.

"I'm kind of young in Double-A, so I knew I wouldn't come back super-hot," Bellinger said. "It's kind of a learning process to me. My hitting coach this morning, [Terrmel] Sledge, he came up to me and showed me video of what I was doing like two weeks ago and in Spring Training. It was kind of different, so we watched video and made a change this morning with my hands. It made a difference today."

Another difference is the quality of work the Arizona native is seeing from Double-A hurlers in his first Texas League stint, but Bellinger had the Travelers figured out on Saturday. He singled to left field in the second inning and led off the seventh with single to left.

"The pitchers are consistently throwing you strikes, breaking ball, off-speed, fastball," Bellinger said. "You get behind more often than not and you've got to be aggressive but know your zone."

Perhaps more important than even his recent success -- the fourth-round pick in 2013 is 6-for-19 in his last four games -- is the fact that it's coming pain-free.
"The hip feels great. I haven't felt any pain at all or any tightness or any setback since I've gotten back," Bellinger said. "It's tough missing a month. I was feeling good in the spring, I was feeling healthy. I was feeling strong. It was just kind of a weird injury that happened. I still don't really know how it happened, but sitting on the bench for those weeks just watching, you get anxious.

"It's just good being out here and playing every day again."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.